Let me admit that my perception implied by the question may be wrong.  (Aptitude may be more popular by users than APT; unfortunately, I did not find robust data about usage.)  But, wherever I see, let's say, official documentation, manpages, installation instructions, tutorials and videos, I mostly see the mention of APT.  Aptitude, on the other hand, has very few mentions.

When I tried to see some technical comparisons, I almost always came across the argument that Aptitude is better than APT. Its dependency resolver is more robust than APT and it represents information in beautiful way. APT lacks some of these features.

Even if it has these plus points, Aptitude is not shipped by default on any Debian/Ubuntu based distros, and is not mentioned anywhere either.  Also, whatever technical comparisons and mentions of Aptitude I found on the Internet are very old. (Almost 6 to 10 years old!)  It seems that very very few people advocate Aptitude nowadays.

So my question is, why are more and more people are endorsing and promoting APT and not Aptitude? What are some technical constraints of Aptitude? In the end, distribution vendors may have some genuine reasons for this thing.

Does anyone know?

  • There is also a GUI tool called Synaptic, which I prefer (of course this is a solution only for desktop machines, where you have GUI, not for a server which you access via ssh and have text only interface).
    – raj
    Feb 9, 2022 at 18:23

1 Answer 1


For what it’s worth:

The fact that apt is installed everywhere means that any alternative needs a particularly strong story to make any headway. That doesn’t mean that aptitude is ignored; for example, the Debian 11 release notes mention it extensively.

There was a time when aptitude’s resolver was better than apt’s, so much so that release notes used to recommend using aptitude for release upgrades. That changed in 2015, when it was discovered that aptitude couldn’t handle some upgrades from Debian 7 to Debian 8 correctly. This reflects the fact that apt has had significant developer investment in recent years, whereas aptitude is languishing.

As far as general perception goes, e.g. aptitude representation on this site v. apt, since apt is installed on all apt-based systems by default, anything that can be done with it is simpler to explain using it, since readers can immediately run any apt command. Anything done using aptitude needs to explain that aptitude first needs to be installed (see also apt-file).

  • Thanks Stephen for a detailed explanation..! I did not know about Debian's Polularity Contest. You pointed me to right direction. So we can say that, Aptitude was created as an experiment and it just struggled in experimental phase, while APT, having significant development efforts, became more preferable than Aptitude. It also came installed by default and used by lot of people. Therefore, Aptitude's popularity is less. Feb 10, 2022 at 2:33
  • Also, for documentation, answering questions, etc, it is much easier to write (and understand) "run sudo apt-get install xxx" than it is to write "select menu foo with the keyboard or mouse, then select menu item bar, then do this, then do that". Even people who normally use aptitude or synaptic or whatever will often use apt or apt-get in examples when telling others how to do something.
    – cas
    Feb 10, 2022 at 7:18
  • @cas I was thinking of command-line use, aptitude install, aptitude search etc. But aptitude’s strength is indeed its UI, and that is annoying to describe as you say. Feb 10, 2022 at 7:45

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